Sometimes I hear people calling their business a “ministry.”
Maybe because they are motivated by concern and care for their customers or because they donate a lot of their time for free.
I don’t refer to my accounting and consulting business as a ministry, but some people have thanked me for “my ministry” to homeschoolers.
Yes, I do give a lot of my time away for free especially on social media like this Facebook group for homeschool leaders that I moderate and frequently I might reply to an email without charging a fee (if it is a short reply!)
But I am running a business and I don’t want to give the false impression that I am running a ministry or operating a nonprofit organization.
OK, not a lot of accounting firms get confused with nonprofits (!), but there are some businesses and homeschool programs that present themselves as nonprofit organizations or “ministries” but they are really for-profit businesses.
I don’t like that. At best, it is confusing to call your business a ministry. At worst, it is deceptive and can damage the reputation of homeschooling.
I have tremendous respect for the late Larry Burkett founder of Christian Financial Concepts (now Crown Financial Ministries) who was both a business owner and operated a nonprofit ministry. He wrote:
Don’t practice deception. If you have a product to sell that you honestly believe will benefit other Christians, let it be known, but don’t promote it as a ministry or as a spiritual happening.
Let your yes be yes and your no be no. In other words, let people know what the company is and what the product is.
If there is a referral or finder’s fee paid to another person for a lead, let that be known too.
If you’re afraid of losing a sale because of total honesty, the program is dishonest.
Source: Larry Burkett in Using Your Money Wisely p. 76 and 77 copyright 1985. You can read a longer excerpt here.
I have heard from several nonprofit homeschool organizations that say churches in their local communities got “burned” by for-profit homeschool groups posing as “ministries.” Read this blog post to understand why churches are reluctant to host for-profit businesses.
Now these legitimate nonprofit homeschool groups have difficulty getting a church to host their program.
Being deceptive hurts everyone.
We’re better than that!
Carol Topp, CPA
Helping homeschool leaders